How Much of an Influence does Instagram Have on Small Businesses?

It’s free, easy to use and best of all, incredibly popular. If there’s any aspect of your business that can be displayed visually, Instagram is one application you simply can’t afford to ignore. With over 400 million users registered worldwide, the photo-sharing platform is growing even faster than Twitter and Facebook, while this Forrester report tells us that, when it comes to engaging your customers, Instagram is unrivalled.

It’s a very quick, straightforward way to inject personality into your small business. After a potential customer has first interacted with your product or service, be it via your Twitter feed or flyers from Helloprint, a carefully curated Instagram stream can help to add credibility to your offering. Done well, it will draw additional traffic to your website by giving your product or service context with a twist.

Generate an emotional bond

From behind-the-scenes photos to sneak previews of new product lines, Instagram will help your customers get to know your brand. You can share what you and your team get up to in a casual, offbeat manner, making your business seem open, informal and spontaneous. People transact with people, and the more visible you make the people in your business, the truer that statement becomes.

Build trust

You want your customers to believe in your product or service, and one of the best ways to achieve that before they get the chance to experience it for themselves is to show them the way you work. You get rid of the notion that you’re a faceless enterprise with a few well-chosen images or videos of your team at work or special events.

Be visible

The key to making sure people engage with your Instagram feed is updating it regularly. At least four or five new photos or images per week will keep your profile feeling fresh and active. Despite its almost half a billion users, businesses still use Instagram less than Facebook or Twitter – so there’s more room to get your message out.

Drive campaigns

Instagram is a great catalyst for campaigns that grab your customers’ attention. Sharpie, the pen and pencil manufacturer, encourages its customers to upload Instagram snaps of artwork created using its products. Sharpie’s Instagram feed is therefore interesting to scroll through even if you never intend to buy its products. And if you have bought a set of Sharpie pens, the Instagram feed serves to inspire you to try new things. It’s effectively simple, peer-to-peer advertising housed on a corporate feed.

Struggling for ideas?

Remember that you don’t have to take amazing photos, so long as they tell a story. Post teasers of new products or services. Larger companies even use Instagram to trail their next big advertising campaigns. Day-in-the-life shots of your team in action will also do well – everyone likes to see what happens behind the scenes. And competitions and promotions will find a natural home on Instagram. If you can take a leaf out of Sharpie’s book and use it as the mechanic for a competition, you’re almost guaranteed customer buy-in.